Tag Archives: bake it!

Old Favorites, New Spin: 4 Cheese & Black Bean Mexican Turkey Lasagna

18 Feb

This fun dish is a healthy twist on two comfort food classics – lasagna and burritos. Thanks to the lean ground turkey, low fat options like and fat-free re-fried black beans, you won’t miss out on any of the flavor. With plenty of room for customizing to your family’s taste and fresh add-ons like crisp green onions and avocado, everyone will be going back for seconds!

4 Cheese Mexican Turkey Lasagna by Siiri Sampson

Copyright 2013 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

I made this as an entry for a food contest a few weeks ago – and while I may not have won that particular award, I have it on good authority that this dish is indeed a serious winner. I had multiple volunteers help me devour this and then have had numerous others already request and make this for themselves at home with great success and accolades.

4 Cheese & Black Bean Mexican Turkey Lasagna

Serves 8



  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7 split if possible)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup organic black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup diced organic green chili peppers
  • 1/2 (5 ozs) can diced organic tomatoes with green Chilies
  • 1/2 (8 ozs) jar organic, low sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) can fat-free re-fried black beans
  • 3 large Smart & Delicious™ Low Carb, High Fiber Tortillas
  • 2 cups Sargento® Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Mexican


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the ground turnkey for 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and spices, and sauté for 5 more minutes. Drain any excess fat, if desired.
  2. Mix in the olives, green chilies, tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and re-fried beans. Stir mixture thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. While the mixtures simmers, toast the tortillas slightly in a dry pan till slightly brown and set aside. This helps keep the layers firm when cutting.
  4. Spray a pie plate, 8″ round cake pan, or spring form pan with light cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the bottom for a crust and lightly sprinkle with cheese, all the way to the edge.
  5. Next, spread a thin layer of the meat mixture, and press down level with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese on top. Repeat the tortilla, meat, cheese pattern twice more, for a total of 3 layers.
  6. Top off with a healthy layer of cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, and if desired, broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.


  • Top with fat free sour cream and freshly sliced scallions (green onions)
  • Make a fresh batch of tangy pico de gallo to serve along side for a kick
  • Leave fresh veggies out for everyone to customize with their favorite toppings


  • Prepare two pans at the same time and freeze one for a make ahead meal

Inspiration: If you need some, open your eyes!

21 Jul

Last night I was at the grocery store after a pretty long day. I was tired, hungry, tired and hungry (uh, wait….okay I already said that….that’s how tired and hungry I was).

I needed to buy something for dinner last night as well as something for dinner tonight, as I’m having a couple of friends over and one is a vegetarian.  I headed over to the cold case where I knew they kept the tofu (just wait to see what I’m making with it! I’ll post the full method tomorrow, after I’ve made it).  As I walked over there, I saw a little “turn style” (not sure what it’s really called), on top of this podium thingy (real specific, Siir’, thanks!)…..

I thought to myself, I wonder why they are selling seed packets next to the tofu?  Right.  That makes sense. So I looked again and realized it was a rotating kiosk full of recipe cards!  And the podium had a reference guide-book on it with divider tabs that showed how to cook every kind of meat and vegetable! I could NOT believe my eyes. Here are some free resources for EVERYONE to use, just sitting there in this little corner. I have been in that store at least 100 times and have NEVER seen it sitting there.

So, of course I took full advantage of what I saw.

Here’s a list of recipe cards I picked up to try:

Grilled Halibut Raspberry Vinaigrette
Chive and Rosemary Filet Mignon
Roasted Cauliflower Gratin
Baba Ghanoush
Minty Watermelon Salad
Brussels Sprouts Vinaigrette
Sweet Ginger Carrots

Tonight I’m making the Sweet Ginger Carrots to go with the tofu and then I’m doing a Kale pesto pasta salad. Can you say YUM?

For the tofu, I’m going to bake it like it’s my crispy baked chicken (the same recipe that I used for my Food Network YouTube Challenge Video) and just sub out the chicken for tofu, and reduce the amount of yogurt so it doesn’t get soggy (I drained it last night).

I’ll show you how I did it tomorrow!

Next time you’re at the grocery store, keep your eyes peeled for these cool, free resources.  Most stores have something of this nature, whether in the deli, butcher counter or produce department.  When you are short on inspiration, borrow some!

One small step for Siiri, one large leap of faith for the Food Network?

15 Jul

There’s been an obvious lull in activity on the blog over the past few weeks, and for that I do apologize!  I was made aware of a challenge that had been issued by the Food Network through their YouTube channel by my good friend, Kim (of DoIhaveLipstickonmyTeeth.com and KimWhiteMakeUp.com fame) who insisted that I throw my hat in the ring!  Little did Kim know, I have been working for months on some short video ideas I wanted to put together into a food video portfolio.  This was the perfect opportunity to actually develop a NEW video idea and attempt to make something happen!

I approached my talented group of friends to volunteer their time, energy and resources to help me produce what I feel is a pretty good “first stab” at how I might approach a cooking show. (this is the first of a handful of still shots I grabbed from the video. Not sure this “Freeze-frame” look on my face is the best, but it is real – and funny).

Mmmm, yam fries! *Don't get me started on yams vs. sweet potatoes. I feel like no one knows the difference!

My overarching plans for where I’d like to go with food are much more far-reaching than a cooking show alone, but of course there’s a huge market there as well.  Whether it’s through the Food Network, my blog, local events and grass-roots efforts (shout out to the Delridge Co-op effort!), or continuing to troubleshoot and teach in my friends and families’ kitchens, I will continue to pursue this love of mine!

Prepping the BEST crispy baked chicken (I swear people think I fried it when they bite in!)

While I continue to plot my multi-media approach to ensuring parents, professionals, students and everyone else has accessible tools to get back in their kitchens and cook to their heart’s delight, please enjoy my video! (I am really bummed there was a time limit, as I had to cut out the part where I make this awesome summer salad. But I’ll highlight that in a future post, so don’t worry, I’ll still share my secret!


So, you’re asking, “Siir’, the video’s great and all, but what does this all mean? Why are you doing this?”  Here’s the breakdown:  the submission window closes Friday morning and the “judges panel” will choose up to 15 finalists who will then be turned back to the public for final voting. From there it’s a basic voting process: the person with the most votes after two weeks wins.

What do they win? A one on one meeting with the Food Network Executives.

The summer salad, which sadly didn't make the video due to time constraints.

For a home cook/ food enthusiast/foodie/former industry work horse like myself, who wants to share their cooking and joy of food with the world, this is a fantastic (once in a lifetime) opportunity.

If I am blessed enough to make it as a finalist, I’ll be sure to scream from the rooftops to let you know! Of course you can’t hear me from up there and you can see my smoke signals from the blogosphere, so I’ll make sure I tell you here as well, so (if you like my video) you can vote for me!

The ultimate test! (trying your own cooking, that is...)

In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you think, I welcome all feedback, after all, cooking for others, especially on TV and video is all about how well my work serves others!  Let me know how I can be better for you all!

Please Come In and Share your Dumpster Dish: Biscotti – the new cassarole

29 Apr

I’m not responsible for the title sucking. My brain is fried, I’m being worked into mental oblivion right now, so the fact that I’m even posting is a shocker to me.

Since I had such ‘great success’ (Borat voice) with the Mr. Bandy Udon post yesterday, I thought I’d through you all one more Bandy Bone this week. (I like that, and I’ll continue to use that little quip, thankyouverymuch!)

Jeff had created a great post a few months back I had wanted to post, but never got around to it.

It’s about biscotti, which I think is the undercover cassarole of the baking world. You can literally put anything you want into a biscotti and it’s still good. You can make them sweet or savory, dipped or ‘virgin’.  I have a good, versatile recipe somewhere that has like 5 or less ingredients in it. When I get my cookbooks unpacked at the new place, I’ll find it and share with you! I know it’s a recipe, but honestly it’s only a few ingredients and once you make it a couple times, you can do it from memory!

So without further ado, here’s Jeff’s post on Honey-Lavender Biscotti

This was my first attempt at biscotti, so I of course turned to my Baking Illustrated cookbook. Turns out I really like big chunks of almonds/hazelnuts/etc. in my biscotti, so these guys weren’t my favorite. Interesting to be sure, but the flavor is very subtle. I think that they would have been much more interesting with a more assertive honey, like a spicy clover honey. The run-of-the-mill honey I used just faded into the background. I have to say, however, that the aroma that filled my apartment while these were baking was out of this world — creamy, buttery tones with heady citrus and lavender notes floating overhead. Words don’t suffice.

I used the lessons I learned in making these for the chocolate almond biscotti below, specifically the tricks with the wax paper and keeping my hands good and floured. The “cylinders” I was able to form with this dough were hideous. Still, a good learning experience, and like I said, the aroma. Wow.

2 1/4 c (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c (4 2/3 oz) sugar
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp minced zest from 1 orange
1 Tbsp dried lavender blossoms

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl, set aside.

Whisk the sugar and eggs in a large bowl to a light lemon color; stir in the honey, vanilla, orange zest, and lavender. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, then fold in until just combined.

Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a work surface covered with floured wax paper or parchment paper. With floured hands, pat it into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Cut the parchment paper and, using the paper as a sling, roll the dough into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Place in the oven and bake about 35 minutes, rotating halfway through, until firm to the touch. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool for 5 minutes, then cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 15 minutes, turning over each cookie halfway through, until they are crisp and golden brown on each side. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving.

Thanks again Jeff, for a fantastic share!

You are what you eat: Experimental Muffins

22 Apr

Don’t get carried away! I’m not baking ‘shrooms or anything (not as far as you know, anyway!)

I got an email from my co-worker this morning asking me the following question:

That recipe looks very delicious but has just a few too many things I’m not supposed to eat.  How would you modify this recipe to taste good?”

And then she included the recipe below, which I modified the heck out of as an experiment:

Her Recipe:

90% Protein Chocolate Chip Muffins


•1 cup Vanilla 90% Protein powder
•1 cup all purpose flour
•1 cup sugar
•1 tsp baking soda
•1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
•1/2 cup soy milk
•1 egg
•2 bananas, mashed
•1 bag (6 oz.) chocolate chips (*optional: you can replace these with carob chips or leave out altogether)

And here’s what I sent back to her:

“I’m not sure what items you can’t eat, but here’s how I’d modify the recipe below:”

  • 1 cup Vanilla 90% Protein powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour gluten free flour (garbanzo flour or brown rice flour)
  • ½ 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ 1/2 cup plain non fat yogurt unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • ½ Cup 1 bag (6 oz.) chocolate chips
  • ½ Cup raisins (or other dried fruit if you can eat that)

And then I said:

 Let me quickly explain what I changed and why:
Flour: you don’t need all that wheat, especially when all purpose flour is basically stripped of all it’s nutrients.  Gluten free flour is usually just milled up whatever, as in, milled/ground up rice or garbanzo beans. It’s not as processed and has more protein.  Additionally, the brown rice flour (I buy the “Bob’s Red Mill” brand you can get at any grocery store) is even better for you because to digest the hull of the rice kernel takes way longer, thereby serving as a complex carb that gives you energy for an extended time, rather than all purpose flour that is digested quickly and is a simple carb that your body stores as sugar.

Brown Sugar: recipes always overdo the sugar amounts. And using brown sugar will give better taste, so you don’t need as much anyway

Yogurt: applesauce is good, but there’s a lot of natural sugar in there. The yogurt has protein and calcium, something you’re not getting in the applesauce, and the texture of the yogurt yields a better result in the muffins. Take out the soy milk (SO PROCESSED!!! DON’T DRINK A LOT OF THIS, IT’S DECEIVINGLY NOT THAT GOOD FOR YOU.)

Chocolate chips: again, lots of sugar and processed ingredients in the chips here….did you know there’s WAX (yes WAX) in most chocolate chips? There IS! Yikes!  Reduce this to a half cup (hey! That’s the name of my blog!) and then add a half cup of a dried fruit you like. You’ll get all the sweetness, more flavor and natural instead of processed sugar.

So this is an experiment…..feel free to oppose me here. The floor is open for discussion. I do not believe by any means that I am the be all, end all knowledge bucket on healthy ingredients….any thoughts?

What you want – Baaaaaaaaby I got it! What you need? Ya’ know I got it!

21 Apr

I’m in a singin’ mood today kids! It’s nasty outside in Seattle today, big fatty fatterson rain drops and they were LITERALLY plopping on my head, rolling down my face as I was walking into the office this morning. Awesome, I know.

Now, I know I said in the title that I’ve got what you need. Do not mistake this to mean that I have all the answers, because I don’t….but I know some one who does! Can you guess?  That’s right, the number one site I stalk: www.BHG.com!

Today I opened my Gmail account only to find a perfectly crafted email from BHG (Better Homes and Gardens) that had two really interesting links I had to share:

  1. 26 One-Dish Chicken Dinners
  2. 34 Dinners in under 20 minutes each

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!! Fo reals, you guys.

Here’s one thing to remember as you look those over: You don’t have to follow directions! This isn’t elementary school.  If you see something you kind of like, but don’t like an ingredient or don’t want to bother with a recipe, then just go home, look at what you’ve got in the fridge and pantry that are sort of similar and if you like those flavors, then trust your instinct!

Here’s two that I think are perfect for this time of year without any fuss:

Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili

Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili


Turkey Steaks with Spinach, Pears, & Blue Cheese

Turkey Steaks with Spinach, Pears and Blue Cheese

You Are What You Eat: Controversial Cookie

31 Mar

I just got an email from Mark, presenting me with what I believe is either the best baking trick EVER, or the wost recipeFAIL of the century since Grandma Ingredients:

It appears Rocco Dispirito has come up with the ulitmate cookie bait-and-switch. He call’s it: “Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie” (don’t get me started on what I think of the name. Either it’s “Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie” or it’s “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie,” OKAY?!)

(curtosey of http://www.DrOz.com)

And who is behind him in this swindle? Dr. Oz. WHAT?!

So, I’m going to put this recipe to the test. If it works and tastes good, then I’m sold. If it’s a pain, comes out wrong, or tastes like it’s ingredients, then I’m going to rip him a new one on the website and this blog.

Okay, “What’s all the fuss?” you’re asking.  Here’s the recipe:

Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 20 cookies
1 serving: 45 calories
1.4 g fat
2 g protein
9 g carbohydrates
0mg cholesterol
2 g fiber
32 mg sodium

½ tsp vanilla extract
¹⁄³ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup canned white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp light agave syrup
3 large egg whites
1½ cups granulated artificial sweetner
¼ cup dark chocolate-covered cacao nibs
¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine vanilla, cocoa, cannellini beans, and the agave syrup, and blend the mixture until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl halfway through blending.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the artificial sweetner. Continue to beat the whites until they are creamy and nearly stiff. Add 1/3 of the egg-white mixture to the cocoa bean mixture in the food processor. Blend to combine, for about 30 seconds. In 2 batches, fold the lightened cocoa mixture into the egg whites until they are almost fully combined. Add cacao nibs to the batter. Fold batter until cacao nibs are evenly dispersed and cocoa mixture is completely incorporated.

Drop mounded spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared sheets. Spread batter out to form cookies about 2½ inches in diameter. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the cookies.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans one turn halfway through baking. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.


So, that’s the recipe. I have to say I’m REALLY surprised Dr. Oz is promoting a recipe that uses a cup and a half of artificial sweetner. REALLY? That’s a LOT of aspartame, kids! (I don’t care how much research comes out, I try to stay away from more than a 1/2 teaspoon of the stuff).

Now, I have to stop for a second and say, this recipe goes against about 90% of why I have this blog.  The point of this blog is to get people back into the kitchen, cooking off recipe and without fuss, while keeping it healthy and fun!  While this recipe is decidedly healthy, it still requires you to buy ingredients you don’t keep around the house unless you’re Rocco Dispirito, and it takes way too much prep, too much effort and the skill level with all the egg whites, etc. is a bit much.

But, we’ll give a go, and see what happens!  I’ll for sure take videos of this process, which should prove interesting.  Also, I now have to go shopping for coco nibs, agave syrup and a massive bag of splenda. LAME!

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